Pecan Sandie Brownies

The motto when entering our new state was "Discover Beautiful Rhode Island." And that was exactly what I intended to do. Being a new north-easterner, I was warned that the beautiful warm summer weather would be short lived, and that I should probably start exploring right way. The first place we wanted to find was a dog park for Ninja. After all, our dog park in Texas was amazing, lots of space to run around and wonderful friends, human and furry. We really miss them and I know Ninja does too! But, when I took Ninja to the nearest dog park ... saying it was a hole ... sadly, is an understatement. So, I decided to make Ninja the center of this new journey, creating an album called "Ninja Discovers Rhode Island...and a little bit of Massachusetts" [so I am not the most creative person]. We started with the coolest doormat that we could find:

During this hunt for new, fun places to enjoy with Ninja, I stumbled on my favorite place in all of Rhode Island. Chase Farm. It's a beautiful little piece of serenity and my go to when I had a stressful day or week. It isn't technically supposed to be an off-leash dog park, but about 99% of the people there have dogs that run around off leash. So we decided to join the party.

Another fun first here in Rhode Island, was Ninja's fist time at the beach! Being born and raised in Texas, Ninja has gotten to nurture his cowboy, outdoor side -- but not so much his beach bum side. Ninja wasn't into swimming and splashing around in the water for fun, but he was great at attempting to "rescue" people. There was this one nice woman in particular who was trying to back swim, only for Ninja to think she was drowning. Least to say, he bothered her, A LOT.

A few months ago, I had a department picnic to go to. My last department get together before heading to Rhode Island. I signed up to bring a dessert but that day, I got behind with moving stuff. I needed something quick and EASY. I couldn't have my last dish there be something store bought! They say that a great cook or baker is able to look into their cupboards and improvise. That's what I did. I saw some pecan sandies and a box of brownie mix. And there you have it -- pecan sandie brownies! What I didn't expect was how big of a hit it was at the picnic! Gone in just a few minutes and everyone was wondering what was in them ... if I told them I would have had to kill them ;) Just kidding! I told them, they would have to stay tuned to my blog :)

A For the Love of Dessert Original Recipe 

Preheat Oven to 325F Degrees

Pillsbury Family Size Fudge Brownie Mix (plus ingredients listed below)
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. water
2 eggs, room temperature
1 package Keebler Sandies, pecan shortbread


Mix brownies according to package directions. Grease a 8x8 baking dish. Pour slightly less than half of the batter into the baking dish. Then line sandies on top of the batter, pressing down very slightly. For me, the last row only fit cookies cut in half. I used about 18 cookies. Then cover the sandies with the remaining batter. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool before cutting, with each square containing 1 cookie.

Note: When I made these brownies, my sandies were more to the top then I intended. So I adjusted how much batter you pour before and on top of the sandies in the recipe above, so that the sandie layer would be more towards the middle.


Crockpot Buffalo Mac n' Cheese

It's been 5 months since my last post and a lot has changed. Remember the big move? Well, I am officially a Rhode Islander! So let me rewind a bit and tell you how I did it. I wanted to find the cheapest but also easiest way to move across country. I rented a 16ft Penske truck for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment though I could have probably rented a 12 ft truck and been fine. Plus it would have been easier to drive and most insurance companies will cover you in the 12ft (single axle) truck but not the 16ft. So you end up paying more to buy Penske's insurance. Word of the wise, rent the trucks early because you can get a really good deal AND always look for a coupon code. I did get rid of a lot of stuff, but I would have changed this. Moving is EXPENSIVE and all those little things that make up a household add up quickly. So, I would have waited to throw out big things, until we were settled. We hired movers to load our truck because it was just me and the hubby and I did not want to burden our friends plus they know how to pack a truck. Sadly the moving company I hired, flaked on me last minute so I hired this "student moving" company and they sucked and some of our furniture got scratched :(

I had 3 drivers (my sister, hubby and me). Yup, my wonderful big sister flew in to help me make the drive up. I had 2 cars and 1 truck. You are probably thinking, perfect -- 3 drivers. And that is what I originally wanted to do (to save the most money) but my very practical dad explained we would be very tired and having an extra driver to rotate in would be better. We ended up shipping one car (and its costly but was definitely worth it because 3, 10-12 hour days of driving was tough). So we had one car with Ninja in it and the truck. We rotated every 4 hours-ish. FYI for those with pets, Bring Fido is an excellent site for finding nice, pet friendly hotels. We also hired movers to unload the truck but it was a mess because it started POURING rain :/ I got everything we needed (in terms of furniture and decor) from either antique stores (love antique stores) and Amazon (love me some Amazon Prime).

Alright, so food ... since I was gone so long, I needed to come back with something pretty nifty. Well there are a few things I really like, two of them being mac n' cheese and Crockpot recipes. A recipe that includes both?!? Awesome sauce. And while we are on the topic of sauce ... this recipe is not just an easy, Crockpot mac n' cheese but a BUFFALO mac n' cheese! Say whaaaaa? You are right. Dump some yumminess in a Crockpot and voila you got yourself the coolest dish to bring to a party or to, you know, shamelessly eat by yourself. #sorrynotsorry

Slightly adapted from The Frugal Girls 


1 lb. elbow pasta, cooked and drained
2 (10.75 oz) cans of Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Soup
2 (10.75 oz) cans of Campbell's Condensed Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
2 c. of Cheddar Cheese 
1/2 - 3/4 c. Buffalo Wing Sauce*
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper 

*Add more sauce for a spicier "kick"


In a large pot of salted boiling water -- cook pasta according to package directions. Drain excess water and run cold water through pasta to prevent sticking. Return pasta to pot.

While pasta is cooking, spray Crockpot with cooking spray. Then combine pasta, condensed soups, shredded cheese, buffalo wing sauce, salt and pepper. Cook on high for 1.5 hours. Once cooked, stir well and then serve.


Tex-Mex Quinoa

Funny story: when finding this recipe it was called "Mexican Quinoa." I was telling my friend Gerardo, who is Mexican, what I made. His response, "How is that Mexican?" So I respond with the ingredients that goes in it and in the most frank and funny way he goes, "Chika that does not sound Mexican ... maybe Tex-Mex." I stop and think. Although it was funny, my passion and my research interests involve a lot of multicultural competence and diversity -- and I thought "hmm ... that is right!" And so I renamed it, Tex-Mex Quinoa ... after all food blogging could use a little reality check, right?

I have been seeing a lot of "quinoa" recipes floating around. And I kept thinking, what is this qunioa I keep seeing. Seemed a little organic hippie like to me -- but I am always for becoming a little more hippie. Plus people were always raving about how healthy it was and I could do a little more healthy too. Well I found a recipe using quinoa that sounded yummy and looked easy enough -- so why not try it? And I am glad I did!

I did not do a Favorite Recipes of 2014 because, well, I did not post very much. I was a very bad food blogger. But I know for sure that this recipe is going to be on my Favorite Recipes of 2015. I LOVED this recipe. This dish is filling, spicy and delicious. But don't worry if you do not like spicy -- you can make it less spicy! What more could you want? So now I am on a quinoa kick -- looking for yummy and creative ways or using quinoa. 



1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 (4 oz.) can of diced jalapenos
1 pound of ground meat (I used turkey)

2 (10 oz) cans of enchilada sauce
1 c. quinoa
1 (15 oz.) can of black beans
1 (14.5 oz) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 c. of corn kernels  
1 packet of taco seasoning
1 avocado, sliced

Garnish: lime, cilantro


In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapenos until fragrant. Add in ground meat and cook through and browned. Discard any remaining liquid. Stir in enchilada sauce,  quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes, and corn. Reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked. Fold in taco seasoning 1 tbsp. at a time until desired taste is reached. Top with avocado slices. Garnish as desired.